DUI Checkpoints – Are They Legal?

The holidays are here and so is the increase in DUI checkpoints. DUI checkpoints are areas that are specifically designated for police to check for drunk drivers. Checkpoints are typically allowed, as long as they follow some important guidelines. Law enforcement must get approval for checkpoints including the location, date, and times of the checkpoint.

How Checkpoints Work

DUI checkpoints are designed to catch potential DUI drivers. They are usually set up in areas that are well-traveled and at times when people may be leaving parties or bars. These checkpoints are manned by police officers or by a combination of officers and special agents hired for the checkpoint task. The checkpoint plan must include which vehicles will be reviewed. For example, a checkpoint may designate that every third vehicle will be checked. Only these vehicles will be checked – if a vehicle is checked out of sequence it could be possible that the results may be inadmissible.

What Happens at a DUI Checkpoint?

DUI checkpoints are set up at the side of the road. Police direct traffic and block the road to allow specific vehicles to the area for checking. The officer will speak to the driver and look at the driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. If the officer has reason to believe the driver may have been drinking he will ask the person to step out of the car and perform some field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests may include walking a straight line, standing on one leg, or reciting the alphabet, to name just a few. Field sobriety tests are often the first step in a DUI arrest.

Implied Consent

In Florida, as in many other states, drivers have already agreed to take a chemical DUI test if requested to do so by a member of law enforcement. Failure to comply will result in a separate charge that carries a mandatory one year driver’s license suspension. You may think that avoiding the test is a good idea, but it can make things much worse. In addition to the extra charges and loss of driving privileges, the fact that you refused to submit to the test will be used against you in your DUI court case. Generally, it’s best to comply with a DUI test.

Defending DUI Charges

DUI charges are taken very seriously and are punishable with fines, jail sentences, and suspension of driver’s license. An experienced DUI attorney will work with your case to determine the best possible defense. In some cases the test may have been administered improperly or the results may be incorrect. It’s best to get your attorney involved as quickly as possible after the incident. If your license has been temporarily suspended he will work to get a temporary license. Those who are being held in jail may need to post bond in order to be released. Your lawyer will try to get the charges and bond requirements reduced whenever possible. Once the case goes to court, your attorney will present your defense and try to get the best possible outcome.